Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It Shouldn't Be This Hard To Help

Yesterday, I went to give blood. I became eligible again on November
15th, but hadn't had time until yesterday. The closest blood drive to me
was also one of the biggest. It was the San Diego Blood Bank's Chargers
Blood Drive. You could donate blood, meet your favorite players and
watch live entertainment. I figured it would be crowded and busy, but I
also figured it would be well staffed. Still, I didn't have a ton of
time, so I figured I would call and make sure I could work it into my
lunch break. I asked if they had openings for walk-ins. Yes, they did.
But could I just walk right in? Could I do this on my lunch hour?
Absolutely. Great! I'm on my way.

It took me 10 minutes to drive to the drive, which I thought was pretty
good. Until I tried to park. Sorry. This lot is full, but you can go to
the other side of the convention center. No worries. Same distance.
Other side. I got to the other side and saw a man waving an orange flag.
Can't park here. Convention center is full. You need to park down the
street at the mall. I should have realized I was screwed at that point
and cut my losses. Of course, I didn't. I went to the mall and circled
for ten minutes until I found a just vacated spot. Then I walked the ten
minutes back to the convention center and headed over to the
registration desk. There was no line. Perhaps I overreacted? I was told
you take walk-ups? Ah. Thank you. She gave me a program for the
entertainment, a list of rules for donating, and a number. 1090. I was
then told to head to the ballroom for the seating area. The white board
in front of the corral said "Numbers 680 and lower". Uh-oh. The
volunteer there looked at my number. Apparently, I had about a two hour
wait before my group was called. Once that happened, I'd go to another
room to get typed and blood pressured. Then I'd get questioned about
whether or not I had traveled anywhere that would disqualify me. Then I
would go to a final holding area where I'd get put on a table and
drained a pint. Crap. I was looking at three hours minimum. If I had
thought to bring work and a cell phone, I'd have called the office and
toughed it out.

I went back to the front to see if they had any appointments for later.
Maybe I could come back. Nope. They weren't doing appointments. All
right. Could I keep my number and just walk right in if I came back and
had missed the call? She couldn't promise me anything. I could certainly
come back, but I might have to wait two more hours then.

I left and walked the 10 minutes back to my car and then had to fight
lunch traffic to get out of the mall. I wasted about 90 minutes and all
so I could fail to help anyone. How very satisfying. I'll clearly have
to find a smaller scale event after the holiday.